Recent Work: Brand Ambassador/Product Tester

Laura helps leading optics companies learn and use social media, conduct content marketing, test products in the field, and use social media and Nature Travel Network to promote product launches. She also works with them on advertising campaigns on Nature Travel Network.

Laura also conducts or assigns book reviews and lodging reviews for Nature Travel Network.

Most recently, she was invited to the Darién of Panama to test a new spotting scope (coverage here) at the Canopy Camp Family of lodges.

Recent Work: Strategic Communications Plan for Academic Society

A prestigious academic society asked me to help them develop a strategic communications plan to help them take a deep look at their target audiences and determine how best to communicate with them online. We spent months pouring over their internal planning documents and user surveys and developed a Strategic Communications Plan that helped the communications team, which was a remote team scattered across the U.S., focus on their communications needs and desires, understand their opportunities and challenges, and set priorities.

If followed closely, this 80-page plan will help their all-volunteer staff adopt the communications mission, agree on needs and opportunities, and collaborate closely on a new communications strategy.

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Strategy Overview
  3. Strategic Communications Objectives
  4. Target Audiences
  5. Key Messages
  6. Communications Tactics and Tools
  7. Communications Action Plan
  8. Campaigns
  9. Evaluation Criteria

 

Recent Work: Travel Ambassador/Fam Tour Organizer for Ecolodges

In the summer of 2017, I organized a group of 12 writers and tour guides on a familiarization tour of southeastern Peru to explore several conservation birding lodges.  My role as travel ambassador for this location was to:

  • Identify quality writers and tour guides who could bring either expertise, a platform, or an audience to the table.
  • Help client narrow down the trip itinerary based on needs and angle of the writers.
  • Work with client to communicate details on the trip itinerary to the writers
  • Act as a liaison between the writers and the client, being sensitive to the writers’ need for information and the client’s need to promote their lodges.
  • Maintain a Facebook page for the group to exchange questions and answers about the destination and to nudge writers on follow-up articles.
  • Feature the destinations in articles on NatureTravelNetwork.com

This process helped the trip go smoothly and keep the writers and guides happy. Several trips were planned within a few months of our return.

Recent Work: Partners in Flight bird conservation website

Really proud of our latest website development project. Some projects inspire more than others, and working to reshape the Partners in Flight website ranked very high. This is Phase II, which we conceived and delivered within three very busy months – no small feat considering there were a number of diverse stakeholders throughout North America who had to be brought to consensus. Very grateful for this project, and excited to see how this helps advance the mission of Partners in Flight. 
Custom features of this site include:
  • Species Conservation Profiles
  • Resource Library
  • Blog/News
  • Working Group Portal templates
Take it for a spin!
 
https://www.partnersinflight.org/
PIF website

Recent Work: Complex Multimedia Website for Nature Travellers

I started a unique and exciting project three years ago: Nature Travel Network (NTN).

NTN is a multimedia travel website designed to promote and engage people in nature travel. It encourages people to dream, plan, and explore the farthest reaches of the world in search of birds, wildlife, and the joy of wild places. The site’s first iteration was nice but it was in need of a serious overhaul. So for most of the last year, in between scraps of time left over from work, family, and my own travel, I worked on completing the vision for NTN phase 2. Read all about it in this press release.

Thanks is due to the small army of people who helped make it possible, my partners in code, my writers, content managers and Associate Editor.

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Recent Work: Amazon Conservation Association Website

Last month we finished working on an exciting web project for the Amazon Conservation Association. They needed a site to promote their birding lodges in Peruvian Amazon, Wayqecha, Villa Carmen, and Los Amigos, and we could not have been more pleased to help bring that to life. They have not yet made it live, but here’s a sneak preview of the home page.

ACA Home Page

Recent Work: Invasive Species Website

In New York, the invasive species ‘PRISM’ network is tasked with educating and coordinating people on invasive species control and management.  Last March, we released a website built for the Adirondack office, and yesterday we released a new website for the Finger Lakes office. In a few months, we will be releasing a new website for the Western New York office.

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Even though each office is managed independently and has their own identify and set of partners, the common theme is ‘invasive species in New York,’ and the ‘PRISM network’.

We felt it was important to maintain a thread of relationship through each site, while preserving their own brand identity. Therefore, we chose the same design theme (WP-Bold), which gives the site its basic structure and functionality. Then we added unique branding, photos, logos, and content. So even though the sites are different, they appear in the same family.

The clients receive several benefits from choosing one contractor for the projects.

  1. Should the network ever decide to promote the umbrella identity in the future, it should be much easier to manage.
  2. Partners and recurrent site visitors can develop expectations for how to navigate among each of the sites to find information.
  3. The clients shared the custom work we did to display invasive species profiles (see one below for Alewife, an invasive species of fish). This includes the novel programming plus the images and content, which makes it easier and faster for each new website owner to complete their site. And who doesn’t love easier and faster?

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The clients are also benefiting from each other’s experience in dealing with the web development process, which can be very confusing and daunting. They can rely on each other for advice and troubleshooting tips as time goes on.

It’s been a great pleasure to work on these two sites and I look forward to the next one.

 

Current Projects 2015

THREE INVASIVE SPECIES WEBSITES

One of our greatest accomplishments of 2014 was to earn the business of three out of eight working groups in the New York invasive species network. Make that four working groups, because we developed a site for the first one way back in 2008 when we were cutting our teeth on WordPress.

We completed a site for the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program in March (http://adkinvasives.com/). We just contracted with the Western New York PRISM for early next year. And we are putting finishing touches on a site for the Finger Lakes PRISM as we speak. You can see elements of our design here:

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For the clients (each independently operated), it made sense financially and energetically to have one company build out each site. Each sites includes an invasive species glossary/index that helps visitors identify and learn about invasive species, so we are able to share the technology, images, and content across each site, while allowing each client a different “look and feel” and organization. From the clients’ perspective, this saved time during the content strategy and content entry phase.  It is a real privilege to help the invasive species put their best foot forward on this important subject.

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OTHER PROJECTS

In addition to these projects, we are working on a variety of website and communications projects including:

I (Laura Kammermeier) will have another busy year of travel and work ahead, especially now that I’ve been nominated as the President of my local bird club. I’m eager to dig in and help the club expand and make a difference in her community.  I hope to hit the Rutland BirdFair and Africa sometime this year. Good thing I have a great team at home to keep things going when I’m away.

My Digital Nature is looking to help another three major clients in 2015. If you or someone you know is looking for web developer and communications company with great coding, design, and content writing skills, then the My Digital Nature team can help. Your word of mouth recommendation goes a lot further than a fancy brochure ever could.

Thanks, and may you have a prosperous new year.

 

 

Remember Birds, Words & Websites? It has a new look.

lmk

Way back when, when I started blogging about nature, birds, and technology, I started a blog called Birds, Words & Websites. It gained some traction, and I became known in the small world of the birding community. This blog was found on my personal URL: laurakammermeier.com.

Eventually, I created this website (My Digital Nature) to separate my digital communications work from my blogging, and closed down the Birds, Words & Websites blog to put my energies into a birding travel project called Nature Travel Network.

Being someone with diverse skills and interests it was hard to figure out what the laurakammermeier.com domain should look like, so I closed it down for a long while.

lmk2I’m happy to report LauraKammermeier.com has sprung back to life, with a new look and new layout that serves as a portal to my other projects and websites. It’s nothing too fancy, but my partner and I employed a “parallax” theme that scrolls downward, effectively displaying the contents of each menu item on the home page. This is a favorite style of site for individuals, portfolios, sole proprietors, etc.

I like the monochrome organic sage and ivory elements – a few of my favorite colors. Please visit and let me know what you think! How do you like that parallax style? Does the site clearly convey what I do?

If you’d like a quote for a similar site, reach out anytime.

WP Engine: The Best Value For Your Money in Web Hosting Services

This may sound weird, but I adore my web hosting provider.

I  mean, no one adores a hosting provider. Hosting providers are thick, boring entities full of automatons that fix half your problem while ridiculing you behind your back.

But I really LIKE mine, and it’s actually fun to work out problems with them through Live Chat. Their customer support personnel (whom I often recognize from one call to the next, who smile and ask how I’m doing, who give full and complete answers and who never turn me away and make it “my problem…”).

Even though the service costs me double what I could pay at a [lousy] shared hosting provider, I’ve been moving all clients to WP Engine for the last three years and haven’t looked back.

I used shared hosting providers for several years before making this switch – LunarPages, Go Daddy, BlueHost, etc.). The troubles I had with these shared hosting providers were:

  • Long waits on the phone. Sometimes to terrible and never-ending muzak.
  • Disinterested support personnel who just want me out of their life
  • International support personnel with poor English
  • Incomplete problem resolution because our communication was never in real time.
  • Uneducated support personnel who were reading from irrelevant script
  • Website hacks with little to no support
  • Server slow down, or throttling, on some client websites for shadowy reasons we couldn’t control without better support.
  • Server slow downs resulting from provider putting too many clients on one server.
  • Server slow downs resulting from provider throttling an entire server because another website was getting a jolt of traffic.

At times, I moved up to “Managed Shared Hosting” to get the support I needed to get through a few throttling issues, but I felt like I was paying a lot but still forced to deal half-ass in a fuzzy world.

WP Engine, however, is run by trained WordPress specialists, so they know the ins and outs of WordPress and never suggest a solution that isn’t tailor-made for the platform.

While they don’t troubleshoot custom programming issues or plugins, they DO provide server support, installation support, and other troubleshooting support along the way and there’s only been one problem they couldn’t help me solve. This was a cacheing problem that resided in my theme –  a custom issue they may be willing to fix if I paid extra, but instead I worked with my programmer to resolve.

Their user portal is feature rich and easy to use. I have all my installations available from one portal where I can:

  • make backups with the click of a button, and restore from backup with another click
  • make a full copy of any installation
  • track visits
  • measure bandwith
  • access phpmyadmin
  • create a STAGING area, which serves as a playground or sandbox for testing new design and features before transferring to my live site.
  • I can also test new WordPress or plugin updates in the STAGING are before going live, as we all know updates can sometimes muck up the works.
  • enable a CDN, or content delivery network, to speed up the site
  • manage redirects
  • start LIVE CHAT – a total life saver
  • add other users to the account so my contract programmers can work on sites with me
  • access tutorials, and more.

WP Engine is full of fun, happy people who always work with me to find a resolution. They feel more like a web partner, than an annoying company I have to send money to for the privilege of owning a site. We even laugh with each other. Now that’s customer service and a company I’m willing to invest in!

I am confident in WP Engine and as a WP Specialist I don’t use any other hosting service.

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Recent Work: Website Renovation

About four years ago, my team had the privilege of designing the website for Tropical Birding. The result was sharp and appealing. But as the site aged and back-end software evolved, so did the client’s priorities and business needs. So they asked us to take another crack at it, and we were glad to work once more on this classy site. The goal was to simplify the business home page to show only products: Birding Tours; Photo Tours; and Custom Tours while showcasing the rich wildlife photos the client had accumulated since our first project.

Once again, we were able to apply the custom technology we developed for showcasing tour detail pages (example here). This custom technology has made us proficient in finding solutions for displaying complex variables (information) on web pages in an aesthetically pleasing manner and specialists in tour company websites.

We also placed this in a totally responsive framework. Now that more than 50% of web surfing is done from mobile devices and “52% of users said they would be less likely to engage with a company if the mobile experience on their site was bad,” (according to marketing engine Hubspot), responsiveness is mandatory for all our web projects.

Visit and see what you think!

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Recent Work: Redesign of Drupal News Page

My designer and I put our noggins together on this one then gave it to the client’s development company to code. The goal was to take a boring news page that was nothing more than blog links and index the growing information in a way that would make it easy to browse.

Using two parts content strategy and one part design we came up with a scheme that highlights the latest news while indexing important news topics and the newsletter archive to the right.

By the way, my designer is proficient in Drupal design and I am proficient with its content management system. We do work in both WordPress and Drupal.

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Recent Work: Email Newsletter Template

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 2.22.21 PMBranding. At one point, I felt this was a vague construct of overpaid marketers. But over the last many years, I’ve learned that in the digital world, the importance of maintaining a branding standard across all your digital tools (website, PDFs, email templates) can’t be overstated or ignored.

This is because the information superhighway is infinite and cluttered; your customers minds are interested only in a tiny sliver of what flashes before them in a day. So if they come across one of your branded web properties that triggers a positive association, they are more likely to stop and pause the next time one of your other branded properties come before them. That’s may sound like neuro-digital mumbo-jumbo; the other reason is very simple. If all your digital web pieces (again, website, PDFs, email templates, ebooks, etc) a acheive a similar level of branding, you come across looking like a sound, professional company worth doing business with; one that is worth their investment.

One of my clients understands this, at least begrudgingly, and has over the last two years gradually upgraded his web properties to really nice effect.

First, we started with a logo, then we developed a website, then upgraded the design of his internal PDFs, and most recently, developed an email template that showcases and complements these other power materials. At every stage, my team built on what was designed before and now, my client sleeps better at night now that nary a digital speck has been left behind in his online branding.

We look forward to building more email templates in the future.

Recent Work: Invasive Species Website

ApippYears ago, when I was cutting my teeth on WordPress, a client of mine (The Nature Conservancy of Central and Western NY) hired me to create a new website for an ongoing invasive species project.

The result was fine and the site editor still loves it, though it makes me cringe by today’s design standards. WordPress has evolved so much in the last decade, and a great benefit is that what used to be hard is now easier than ever. Design themes have improved so much that sites can easily appear dynamic and multi-dimensional.

Just like the New York Nature Conservancy has many state chapters, this NY invasive species group has many regional offices. So it was very cool when one of the other offices called me to ask for a quote to build the same kind of site. It’s like having a do-over without going back to the original client!

We started this site in September and handed it to the client on December 16th. They are still in the process of adding content, but most of it is done. To keep the project in the client’s budget range, we used an off-the-shelf theme and made minor customizations, such as a soft nature background, font changes, and hyperlink colors, plus customized a few widgets for the home page.

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We also created specialty pages (custom post types) for each invasive species, and made hotlinks to each species group as a secondary menu.

We added a calendar (time.ly) so they can advertise workshops, trainings, etc.

I like how today’s footers have become important navigational elements, and how studies show that the footer, if done well, can be an important navigational tool. On this one, we placed important messaging, a call to action, and contextualized the organization under the New York umbrella.

It was great fun working with the client, as they were on the ball, fast with feedback, and had great attention to detail. That helped the project proceed quickly.

Now, my fondest wish is to build a new website for the other five invasive species groups, using the same theme with different design and content to again, provide a measure of statewide unity across the invasive species groups.  Time will tell whether that wish comes true. : )

Thanks to Sam Hotchkiss Consulting and Katherine Koch for their development assistance with this project.